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How Managers Can Make Sure Buildings Are Accessible

How Managers Can Make Sure Buildings Are Accessible

Source: | Re-Post Careprodx 9/1/2016 - 

A moment seared into history happened when more than 60 disabled activists (including an 8-year-old with cerebral palsy) put aside their wheelchairs and crutches to crawl up the 83 steps to the Capitol Building. Nothing else could have demonstrated accessibility barriers more clearly, and the ADA was signed into law four months later.

Of course, putting the law into practice wasn’t easy, and accessibility, even after a quarter of a century and a major update in 2010, still isn’t perfect. That said, the impact of the ADA and how it governs a facility’s functionality is all-encompassing and continues to evolve.

So, Who Has To Comply With What Standards?

Accessibility in federal buildings is governed by the Architectural Barriers Act, which was enacted by Congress in 1968. All buildings and facilities owned or leased by the federal government must comply with the accessibility standard.

The US General Services Administration sets out exactly who that is: “Any person involved in the design, construction, alteration and leasing of federally owned or leased facilities,” and that includes building managers.

When it comes to the ADA, on the other hand, “the spirit of the law is voluntary compliance,” notes Curbed editor Patrick Sisson. “The law works on an ‘after-the-facts’ system known as injunctive relief; developers can build whatever they want, but architects and builders can and will be held responsible for violations and can be sued,” he writes.

Especially in the beginning, this approach could be punitive, but in most cases and “after an initial adjustment period…the spirit of the ADA…eventually led to more integrated buildings and design.” Accessible buildings have become the norm, and are no longer seen as specifically designed for the disabled, but as smart designs that offer better mobility and wayfinding for everyone.

That means that today’s facilities managers of recently built environments take features such as ramps, no-step entrances with wider doors, nearby designated parking and specially designed restrooms for granted.

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3rd May 2024

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